Oh, Lord, y’all. I’ve already shared this part of myself with you. I have a few pet peeves, but the number one tear-my-hair-out, blindly screaming, call your mother and tell her what you did peeve is meanness. When someone is mean to me or someone I love I go from super chill Becca to white trash redneck angry girl whose name is not pronounceable through her gritted teeth. Having a child has taken these psychotic episodes to another level-and because usually the perpetrator is aged in the single digits, I have to control myself during these times more than ever. Have you ever wanted to grab a 6-year-old by the ear and drag him away while his mother watched? No. Uh. Right. Me neither.
On a totally unrelated note, Jack and I went on a little dinner date tonight. Unlike most of my twenties, date nights now consist of taking my toddler to any location with a play area. The closest one with the nicest kids’ place is Burger King. Most of the time, Jack will find a few kids his age. Sometimes, there are older kids, but many of them are older siblings and very aware of being more careful and sometimes even helpful with their younger counterparts.
At Burger King, they have this little play station with touch screen video games. It actually kind of annoys me that this is something available because I want Jack to run and jump and climb, but whatever. He likes it and we didn’t really come here to do what I want. So, Jack is sitting on a chair playing this little video game and a group of boys around 6 years old come over. Most of them go to the game on the other side of Jack, but one little boy comes to Jack, pushes him back in the chair, SITS on the chair, and plays the game like Jack is just an inconvenient piece of furniture that needs to be moved out of the way.
Oh, this poor little boy. He obviously does not know who he just disposed of like a leftover from his King Jr Meal. He doesn’t know that this child is important to someone who is currently fantasizing about telling him the truth about Santa. This is Jack. This is Becca’s son. That’s right kid. Me. The pregnant lady over here. The one who just spit out a piece of her cheeseburger so that you could understand perfectly the words that are about to come out of her mouth.
He didn’t see me coming. He was too busy playing his game as he pushed his feet against the post holding up the computer, propelling himself backwards and further squishing my first born. In a second, sweet tea in hand, I was there in a squatted position. Face to face. Eye to eye. He felt my presence and looked at me smugly. Then, I watched as he took in my expression, his apathetic eyes quickly turned fearful. White-knuckled and lock-jawed I spoke slowly and clearly, “You. Are. In. My. Son’s. Seat. It. Was. His. Turn. Get. Up. That. Was. Not. Nice.” As he hopped off the chair, I saw his eyes turn for help. Following his gaze to his mother who was already in full glare off mode, I glared back. I’m sure it was only a few seconds, but it felt longer so I planned my defense. I would grab Jack and throw him towards the nice grandmother I spoke with earlier. I knew where she worked and where her grandchild went to school. Then, I would grab the food tray to my left to shield my unborn child. Last, I would throw my sweet tea on the floor causing the woman to slip before she could get to me. By then, bystanders would surely step in to protect the pregnant woman.
I maintained my stare. She blinked, and looked at her son who was already happily playing with his friends. Then, she looked away. It was over. I went back to my seat. There are parents who you can talk it out with and then there are those who offer a glare. These are the ones who produce mean children.
While I wrote all of the above with a sense of humor, I really do hate the number of mean people I’ve come across in my lifetime. Even worse, I hate that Jack will inevitably face them, too. I hate that I keep using the word hate and I hate that they make me feel hate. It is something that I just don’t understand. I can’t explain to Jack why some people are mean to him. He will tell me when someone is mean to him and then he will ask why. My answer is always, “I don’t know, baby. Maybe they were having a bad day. Maybe they’re hungry or tired. Sometimes, people are just mean.”
My mother used to tell me that sometimes kids are mean because their parents are mean. That sometimes, they didn’t get any breakfast or they didn’t sleep in their own bed last night. It was an impressive way of simplifying why people are the way that they are, and it’s the reason I didn’t yell at that little boy today, even though he literally caused my heart rate to shoot up. With a parent who glares instead of investigates, who could blame him for being selfish? He’s just a child, but what about when he grows up? How long do we get to blame our parents for our personality deficiencies? I think the answer is adulthood. Once you reach adulthood, you’ve got to take responsibility for your behaviors. I know too many people who were raised in a bad environment and still turned out to be good people. Sometimes, people are just mean-and all we can do is glare at them until they blink.